The University of Houston knew there would be bumps in the road as the basketball season began, fortunately the first game was just a bump and not the curb as the Cougars held on to beat Florida A&M 81-76 Friday at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Forwards Leon Gibson and TaShawn Thomas provided the punch the Cougars needed to get past the Rattlers. The pair combined for 31 points and 30 rebounds, with both notching a career high. Gibson scored a career high 20 points while Thomas hauled in a career best 20 boards.
A hot start for Houston was quickly cooled by a 13-0 Florida A&M run that put the Rattlers on top 16-7. Houston chiseled away at the lead but trailed by 1, 35-34, at the half.
The lead was still one for the Rattlers with 7:49 left in the game when Houston took control thanks to a 12-4 run. Freshman guard Jherrod Stiggers scored eight of Houston’s points in the run.
Florida A&M would close the lead to one with two minutes left in the game but a pair of Gibson baskets grew the Houston lead again. The Cougars his free throws to maintain the advantage.
Cougars coach James Dickey improved to 4-0 in season openers at the University of Houston. He and the Cougars team will get the chance to go 2-0 Tuesday on the road at San Jose State.